Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rowing Lessons, South Lagoon

photo credit: Jen

I'm fortunate that my ten-year-old driver (of our small outboard motor boat) is also very keen on rowing. He picked it up so quickly when I first taught him a year ago that by the end of the second lesson he was good enough that we could venture down the Grand Canal with him rowing in the prua (or front of the boat). By the third he was able to row the boat by himself in the open lagoon--even one-handed at times, mimicking the style of gondoliers--while I lazed on the front deck of the boat.

He now goes rowing twice a week from the Giudecca with other kids, usually in a two-person mascareta with his best friend, and wishes he could do it more often. To which end, he's now urging me to rejoin the remiera I used to belong so that we can go out rowing in a proper boat together (as the forcole and oars of our own small boat are really intended simply to noiselessly shift from one fishing spot to another in the lagoon, or in case of engine trouble).

There's a lot to be said for lying flat on your back with the sun on your face while your child rows you around--in fact, it's one of the best arguments I've come across for having a child (at least in Venice). But I suppose it's been too long since I've regularly rowed and it will be fun to do it with my son, though he's pretty insistent that he will be the poppiere (the one in the tail of the boat who steers).

What's it like to row in the Venetian style for one who comes to it many years after childhood? Here's a post about it from when I'd just finally started to get the hang of it and was able to go out into the lagoon on my own: https://veneziablog.blogspot.com/2012/03/voga-alla-veneta-one-oar-one-master.html

For my son, who's lived here since he was almost three year old, rowing has come much more naturally, as easily as learning to ride a bike. 

For visitors to the city interested in learning to row in the Venetian style, I've always heard very good things about this non-profit organization, though I have no experience with it myself: https://rowvenice.org/


  1. I can vouch for Row Venice as a great choice for a one-off lesson -- the instructors are all fantastic, and it's a wonderful introduction. When my husband and I were ready to make some actual progress, we did a few weeks of lessons with Venice On Board (http://www.veniceonboard.it), and I can recommend all those instructors too!

    Thank you for your posts -- they make me incredibly homesick for Venice (we can only do three months at a time, sadly), but happy too.

    1. Thank you for the info about both alternatives you've used to learn to row, redpencilgirl, and the differences between them--it's really useful. Three months at a time, though, is nothing to sneeze at! And it sounds like you make the most of your time here, too. I'm glad to hear you enjoy the blog.